'Modi Recommended Reliance, France Had No Choice'

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However, French sources say that Hollande, who Emmanuel Macron succeeded as president in May 2017, was motivated to speak out after an Indian media report revealed that the Reliance Group had part-funded a film venture by his domestic partner, French actress Julie Gayet.

Rahul Gandhi further claimed that people in the central government are making false statements "one after the other" to save Prime Minister Modi as he was the one, who signed the contract.

Opponents of the Modi government had accused it of tweaking the contract to benefit a particular business house - the Reliance Defence of Anil Ambani - to be the "offset" partner of the French makers of the aircraft, Dassault Aviation.

Gandhi demanded a joint parliamentary committee probe to which Hollande can also be called. The opposition parties have also alleged that the Reliance Defence was formed just 12 days before the announcement of the Rafale deal by the prime minister on 10 April 2015. "This time by then President of France, Mr Hollande", Chidambaram added. "We did not have a choice, we took the interlocutor who was given to us", said Hollande. The final deal was sealed on September 23, 2016.

Gandhi began by reading out remarks of Hollande to a French website Mediapart in which he does not mention Modi directly. "The country can not be run from one single idea", Gandhi was quoted as saying by PTI.

Asked if the party will seek Modi's resignation, Gandhi said that ministers of the Modi government were speaking "lies" to protect the prime minister. The "Defence Offset Guidelines" of DPP 2016, clause 4.1 in Indian Offset Partners (IOP) reads: "Indian enterprises and institutions and establishments engaged in the manufacture of eligible products and/or provision of eligible services, including DRDO, are referred to as the Indian Offset partner (IOP)".

In a statement, Dassault Aviation said it made a decision to get into a partnership with Reliance Defence in accordance with the "Make in India" policy.

The significance of the current campaign against Modi and his involvement in the Rafale controversy that is being spearheaded by Rahul Gandhi may not be lost among many keen observers of the fast-paced developments in the Indian political theatre.

The Opposition Congress party, however, seized on the news report as an admission that the Rafale deal was marred by corruption. Dhingra has also said the lack of fighter jet manufacturing experience was irrelevant since the jets are being delivered by Dassault in "fly away" condition.

Hollande has certainly dropped a big bomb over Rafale deal.

Congress President Rahul Gandhi today said there was a feeling among people that one ideology was being imposed upon them and asserted that the country can not be run on one single idea.

"The French government is in no manner involved in the choice of Indian industrial partners who have been, are being, or will be selected by French companies", a French foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement on Friday.

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